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October 13, 2008

Want to be a creative person? Prepare to get the smack down!

Well, goodness... I've been sending scripts out to people who request them because of my placement in the Nicholl Semis, and look at this delightful email I get today.


Thanks so much for letting me read HER 14TH MISSION. Unfortunately its a pass for me. I think your writing is quite strong but the subject matter is a hard sell. Studios are rarely buying any specs these days and historical specs are not selling at all. Its very rare.

Structurally - you've done a great job of hitting the three act structure. I think the topic is very interesting about Harriet Tubman's 14th mission however this to me feels more like a TV movie of the week than a feature. It wasn't elevated enough. I tend to respond stronger to writing that "pops" per say or has a distinct voice. To be honest your dialog was a little bland and I understand due to the historical nature of the piece it had to be that way.

Being that the concept and dialog were both a little too down the road- it wasn't something I ultimately responded to. Thank you again for sending me your script and best of luck with it.

I can handle it, but man it's not all that great to get a message like this! So I just tell myself... Keep writing... Keep working. Everyone can hate you, it only takes one to love you, and your film could get made.

I could respond to this email in a more point to point fashion, but I don't want to come across as the bitter, defensive writer... so no comment.

Except... it's "per se," not per say. And it's pretty redundant to say "Structurally, you've done a great job of hitting the three act structure." And how in the world is my writing strong if my dialogue is bland and said strong writing doesn't pop? And... oh nevermind. (Although I have more.)

And by the way, I really do take most critiques and notes really very well, but ones that give you no concrete examples or guidance and are all over the map while clearly contradicting themselves? Well, I guess I do have one point of agreement with the writer of this message.

Unfortunately it's a pass for me, too.

Posted by jason on October 13, 2008 01:34 AM


I'm sorry, but if they can't even spell "dialogue" correctly, then they really aren't worth listening to, IMHO.

You're right, they were full of contradictions, and seem to string together words for words' sake, rather than making concrete points.

Take correction from the people have something to say that makes sense.

And leave the rest.

Posted by: jessica on October 13, 2008 02:30 AM

You're right Jase--you only need one to love what you do. And that one is out there. Soon, I think.

This one seemed very subjective in her critique.

Posted by: Mom on October 13, 2008 08:51 AM

I had a different reaction to this note.

I think the real reason for the pass is contained in the phrase "the subject matter is a hard sell." But when they wrote the note up to this point, they saw how short it was, and they said, "oh shoot, I can't write something this short, that's rude." So they started casting around for "constructive criticism" that they could include. It's my opinion that like 90% of the pass is that they thought that the subject wouldn't sell, and that they really don't feel strongly about the other criticisms but felt obligated to add them.

BTW, sorry if using "they" as a generic third person singular offends you as a writer. I happen to like it, but I know some people have a strong reaction to it.

Posted by: peaj on October 13, 2008 10:57 AM


I don't mind you using the term "they," but they might.

And your theory is a good one, except she could have asked to read another script then! But with this feedback, I probably wouldn't have sent her another one. She's not the sharpest tool in the shed. (And I mean the actual way she but the feedback together, not the negative content of it.)

I don't need a manager whose writing emails of this quality representing me in any way.

Posted by: jason on October 13, 2008 11:21 AM

As negative responses go, this isn't too negative in my book. But maybe I'm more used to negative responses than you are! She is a manager? Wow, I can't imagine you would want someone with such poor professional writing skills to represent you, however negative or positive the review is.

Posted by: Mike on October 13, 2008 03:51 PM

Clearly she does not proofread her own writing. That does not bode well, in my opinion, so I think you are better off, Jase. It is rare that I let any piece of writing, no matter how casual or inconsequential, out of my sight without careful scrutinization. If it is going to represent me, it will be as clean and professional as possible or it does not get sent.

Posted by: kathiek on October 13, 2008 05:22 PM

Kathy, I'd love to have the same self discipline, but it's pretty obvious I do not do a thorough job of proofing my blog posts. Emails I am better with, however, especially to IMPORTANT PEOPLE.

Posted by: jason on October 14, 2008 04:45 AM

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